Iran turned to home-grown coaches during their qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, appointing first Ali Daei, then Afshin Ghotbi as the men in charge. Having seen their hopes end in heart-breaking fashion they opted for the experience of an established foreign manager in Carlos Queiroz as focus turned towards Brazil 2014.
The Portuguese is no stranger to the global scene, having taken his country to the second round at the last FIFA World Cup. Neither is he lacking in pedigree, having been an assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United from 2002 to 2003 before going on to manage Real Madrid the next season. Adding to his coaching CV are two one-year spells in charge of Nagoya Grampus Eight and United Arab Emirates.
Queiroz got his tenure with Iran off to a good start with Team Melli putting five unanswered goals past Maldives over two legs in the preliminary round. Under his guidance, Iran remained undefeated as they stormed into Asia's final qualifying round. Despite seeing his side flounder in the early stages, Queiroz was shrewd in modifying his squad as Iran bounced back to book qualification with three straight victories.
Even more impressive are Queiroz's efforts in organising a competitive team. He successfully persuaded European-based Ashkan Dejagah and Reza Ghoochannejhad to join the team, with the latter playing a talismanic role as Iran sealed a return to the FIFA World Cup. While a host of seasoned stars remain at the experienced core, a series of fresh talents have broken into the Iranian team under him with the squad finding the balance between old and new.
A motivator as well as scholar of the game, Queiroz has done whatever he could to build up his players heading to Brazil. With Iran having failed to progress beyond the group phase in all their three previous appearances, Queiroz openly stated his ambitions of making history by taking his side to the second round for the first time.